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Ancram: Europe cannot be swept under the carpet

Speech to Party members in Wiltshire

"If the outcome of the Conservative leadership contest is to be positive, it can't just be based on personalities. We need a comprehensive debate on the issues.

I therefore find it quite astonishing that so far Europe appears to have been marked 'not for immediate discussion' and sidelined. The future structure of the European Union and its impact on our national sovereignty lie at the very heart of Conservatism. It cannot just be swept under the carpet.

Moreover it is quite absurd to argue that the French and Dutch referendums have somehow made Europe a non-subject. Certainly not in the hearts of Euro-federalists in Brussels.

In a recent lecture I argued "There must be no further surrenders of sovereignty to the EU. Indeed we must seek to retrieve those areas of sovereignty which we should never have surrendered in the first place… This will entail renegotiating existing treaties." I might have uttered heresy!

I had offended against the 'doctrine of Irreversibility', that same doctrine which astonishingly argued that the French and Dutch 'no' votes in fact meant 'yes'!

This doctrine is irredeemably flawed. It is creating the political equivalent of a black hole. Nothing acquired can escape. Nothing relating to the 'European Project' can be undone. Nothing, however out of date, or wrong, or inefficient can be overturned. Far from meeting the dynamic global challenges of today, this is a recipe for Europe's eventual implosion.

To be told that 'the rules' prohibit these changes is absurd. To be prevented from retrieving wrongly surrendered sovereignty is downright objectionable. Stuff the rules. Sovereignty may sound an old fashioned concept. It is in fact the beating heart of a nation's ability to protect the liberties, rights and freedoms of its people.

The French and Dutch votes have in practice provided the first real chance in forty years to press for serious reform in Europe, to reject the self-destructive concept of federalism and to build a genuine partnership of sovereign states. The existing Treaties will need to be renegotiated.

The opportunity is enormous. It must not be squandered. Great changes in the history of Europe have rarely, if ever, been brought about by 'quiet diplomacy' or polite discussion, but rather by great events and an iron political will in response to them. They have never been built on the back of 'can't be done' but rather on the shoulders of 'can and will be done'. They have never been achieved by bureaucratic manoeuvring, but through committed and determined leadership which does not take no for an answer.

The Conservative Party alone can provide that leadership. We need to produce a leader who will stand up for Britain rather than being fobbed off by Euro-flattery. One who will tell our partners in Europe that the majority of the British people want neither the rigidly bureaucratic status quo nor any further advance towards a country called Europe. One who will persuade our partners that change towards a flexible Europe is not only possible but necessary and that we will do all in our power to achieve it. We must this time, with our relative economic strength, persuade our European colleagues that they need us more than we need them.

We urgently need a leader with the courage, the passion, the ability and the determination to preserve our sovereignty and to deliver that Partnership of Sovereign Nation States.

Time is not on our side. The 'Irreversibility' brigade is already sharpening its axes."

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